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A look at Apple’s new offerings, iPad mini and more

- October 26th, 2012

AppleiPadMiniApple’s October event was more than spooktacular! It included the unveiling of a new iPad mini as well as a new MacBook Pro 13-inch with Retina display as the rumour mills had predicted and a whole lot more. Apple took the opportunity to offer some interesting upgrades to some of their software as well as unexpected update of the new iPad as well as a refresh to the iMac and Mac mini lines.

iPad mini Unveiled

It was almost anticlimactic as the release of an iPad mini was inevitable. Regardless, if you caught the live stream of the Apple event, it was plain to see it was a huge hit with the audience.

The new iPad mini composed of aluminum and glass is a wafer 7.2 mm thin and weighs only 0.68 pounds. It features Apple’s dual-core A5 chip and a 7.9-inch multi-touch display. It’s not a Retina display, yet has the same number of pixels as its big brother iPad in a smaller space. It also has FaceTime HD and a respectable 5-megapixel iSight camera and boasts a 10-hour battery life.

The iPad mini also has dual band 802.11 and Wi-Fi, faster than the current models.

What’s interesting is rather than focus purely on how versatile the iPad mini is, given it will run all the apps that the other iPads do, the presentation appeared to lean towards the construction materials and form, viewing area and books, with Apple’s SVP Phil Schiller literally tearing a strip off the Nexus 7, comparing the mini’s thin aluminum body vs. “their” plastic and thicker form. He also made the comparison of the 35% greater overall viewing area, 29.6” for the mini vs. 21.9” for Google’s product to show that not all tablets in the 7” category are created equal.

Despite a higher selling price than same-size Android tablets (Apple has never really been a price-leader), it looks like Apple is positioning the iPad mini as an alternative to the Kindle.

Apple rolled out version 3.0 of their book reader, iBooks, one of just a couple of app changes amongst all the hardware updates. It now allows you to see all your purchases in iCloud right on your bookshelf and with the new Scroll theme, you can scroll vertically with a simple flick. It’s also easier to get updates, corrections and new chapters for items previously purchased.

iBooks Author has also been updated to 2.0, giving authors the ability to use their own fonts, math expressions, multi-touch widgets and streamlined update capability amongst others.

The iPad mini will be available in Wi-Fi only or Wi-Fi + cellular and in 2 colours beginning Friday, November 2 for the Wi-Fi model and roughly 2 weeks later for the Wi-Fi + cellular model. Pricing starts at $329 for the 16GB model, $429 for the 32GB model and $529 for the 64GB model. Wi-Fi plus cellular models will sell for $130 more, respectively.

 

New iPad Refresh

After only hitting the market in March, the new iPad (3rd gen) also had a refresh, much to some dismay for those who just purchased one. This could possibly be in response to Microsoft’s forthcoming Surface as well as other tablets being readied for delivery for the holiday season.

Apple replaced the processor with the new A6X chip, which apparently delivers up to twice the CPU and twice the graphics performance of the A5 chip it. It also has a new FaceTime HD camera, better Wi-Fi performance and additional support for LTE carriers. Like the iPhone 5, the 4th gen iPad also includes the new and smaller lightning connector.

The 4th generation iPad will also ship a couple of weeks after the iPad mini Wi-Fi models, sometime in mid-November with retail pricing of $459/16 GB, $559/32 GB and $659/64 GB. Similarly Wi-Fi plus cellular will sell for $130 more.

 

MacBook Pro 13-inch with Retina Display

Apple also announced a 13-inch companion for their ever-popular MacBook Pro 15-inch with the Retina display. It can be configured with Core i5 and i7 processors. It features a 2560 x 1600 display, with 4 times as many pixels as the current model with a 29% higher contrast ratio and 75% reduced reflection.  Like its 15-inch big brother it has all-flash storage, two Thunderbolt ports, USB 3 ports an HDMI port and SDXC card slot, but it loses the built-in optical drive, the Firewire 800 port as well as the built-in Ethernet port.

It’s 20% thinner, measuring about three quarters of an inch and weighs 3.57 lbs., almost 1 lb. less than the previous model. It also has a bigger 74-watt-hour 7-hour battery and a 30-day standby.

The 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display is shipping now and is available with a 2.5 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 processor with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.1 GHz, 8GB/128GB flash starting at $1,699; (256GB of flash $1,999) Custom orders can include dual-core Intel Core i7 and flash storage up to 768GB.

For those looking for a Retina display Mac, at $1699, this one should prove to be a good seller. It seems that the 13-inch current model is a popular size with many buyers and it’s still $500 less than the entry level 15-inch MBP with Retina display.

 

iMac is Alive & Well

Apple also proved this week that the iMac is alive and looking more slim and trim than ever. The  sleek new model will have 40% less volume than its predecessor and at its thinnest point has an edge of just 5mm. The widescreen’s glass is now fully laminated to the LCD and reflection is reduced by a whopping 75%.

The new iMacs have 3rd gen quad-core Intel i5 and i7 processors. For gaming and serious graphic uses like video and 3D animation, the NVidia GeForce video will provide up to 60% better performance.

They can be configured as serious workstations with up to 32GB of RAM, a 3TB hard drive or 768GB flash. They have two Thunderbolt ports for excellent dual motor support and 4 USB ports to connect everything you need.

A new innovation, the Fusion Drive, is an optional hybrid configuration that takes a 128GB flash drive and marries it with a 1TB or 3TB drive. The system views it as a single volume designed to seamlessly manage files for read and write performance by storing the more commonly used apps and documents to the faster flash drive.

The iMac will remain in 2 sizes; 21.5” and 27”.

The 21.5-inch iMac, available sometime in November, comes with a 2.7 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.2 GHz and NVIDIA GeForce GT 640M ($1,299); and with a 2.9 GHz quad-core i5 with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.6 GHz and NVIDIA GeForce GT 650M ($1499).

The 27-inch iMac, available in December, comes with a 2.9 GHz quad-core Intel Core i5 with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.6 GHz and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660M ($1,799); and with a 3.2 GHz quad-core i5 with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.6 GHz and NVIDIA GeForce GTX 675MX ($1,999).

 

Mac Mini Enhanced

The energy efficient Mac mini, one that we don’t hear about very often, has also been updated. It incorporates more current and faster 3rd gen dual-core Intel Core i5 and quad-core i7 processors, offering up to 2x performance as previous models and a moderate graphics performance improvement of up to 65%.

They’ve added USB 3 and Thunderbolt ports to complement the HDMI, a Gigabit Ethernet port and the SDXC card slot. Even the Firewire 800 port remains.

The Mac mini, shipping now, is available with a 2.5 GHz dual-core Intel Core i5 with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.1 GHz, 4GB/500GB hard drive ($599) and a 2.3 GHz quad-core i7 with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.3 GHz, 4GB/1TB ($799); and a 2.3 GHz quad-core i7 with Turbo Boost speeds up to 3.3 GHz, OS X Server, 4GB and 2X 1TB hard drives ($999).

There is certainly a great selection of new Apple products for everyone. Hopefully they will all be available in time to stuff everyone’s stocking. It’ll also be interesting to see what the line-ups will be like at the Apple Stores come November 2.

Check out Apple Canada’s on-line store for full specs, pricing and availability.

 

Photo Courtesy:  Apple Inc.

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Greg Gazin is the Real Canadian Gadget Guy.

Follow me on Twitter @gadgetgreg or Empire Avenue (e)GADGET1.

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7 comments

  1. david james | October 28, 2012 at 9:08 am

    Would have been nice to have some non-fanboy facts in this article < forget to mention you can get an ipad 2 for only 60 more bucks and that a fully load mini is almost 700 dollars, what a ripoff

  2. Jennifer L. | October 28, 2012 at 2:15 pm

    I’m guessing once this new product is released, many people will purchase it. A lot of people would like to go on the internet quickly once the page loads up, and I think Apple can certainly do it. It mentioned that, “The iPad mini also has dual band 802.11 and Wi-Fi, faster than the current models.” That proves that people can access to what they want quickly.

  3. Greg Gazin | October 28, 2012 at 2:28 pm

    Thanks for your comment David and pointing the cost difference between the iPad 2 and iPad mini. I don’t think that price would be a reason why someone would buy an iPad 2 vs an iPad mini; it’s the form factor. And while I agree that the fully loaded mini might be an investment for some, a small 3 series BMW costs more than a full-sized Chevy. On the other hand someone might just want the most they can get in the smallest form.

  4. Juliana DC | October 28, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    I am an Apple user, and always impressed by their products. However when I purchased my iPhone 4s this past summer I felt as if I only had a month to indulge before I was distracted by new advertisements for the new iPhone 5. Yes, I understand this is Apple’s technique for consumers, to put out a great product improve two minor things on it and then advertise it as totally new and improved. Way better then the previous product. I feel Apple is creating an even more superficial society. We as consumers are being told that 2560 x 1600 display, with 4 times as many pixels as the current model is going to make us happier. Also if we don’t have the latest model we will somehow miss out on technology and current events. I totally am happy with Apples products however I believe they’d be more successful if they slowed down on popping out gadgets every month. Let people enjoy their technology.

  5. Luke V | October 28, 2012 at 10:55 pm

    Apple has a nasty habit of putting out new products that in reality have very little new things about them, and then marketing them as though the product is the best thing since sliced bread. I would respect them as a company much more if they put a little more time into actually developing new technologies to revolutionize the computer world and less time fretting over how they’re going to make the next product appear slightly different than the last. My biggest problem with them is their new iPad Mini, which boasts about its exceptional screen size whilst still maintaining optimal portability. This is a joke to me because I see no real difference from the iPad besides a mediocre camera and a slight size adjustment. If people are really in a situation where their iPad is too big for their liking, but their iPhone is too small, I think they might need to seriously take a look at their priorities.

  6. Greg Gazin | October 28, 2012 at 11:04 pm

    Juliana, I agree, it seems the latest and greatest seems to be quickly replaced by the next latest and greatest. That seems to be the trend with just about every technology today and.. marketing!

  7. Greg Gazin | October 28, 2012 at 11:09 pm

    Luke, you have a point. The mini is not for everybody, but for some this might be the slice they have been waiting for. I’m not sure it’s a priority thing but rather a “want” thing. Thanks for your comment.

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